Massachusetts workers’ compensation requires insurers to pay for appropriate and necessary treatment under §§ 13 and 30 of the Workers’ Compensation Act for employees who suffer a workplace injury. Since an employee’s medical history can affect whether or not money is paid for a disability, multiple injuries and health conditions can limit or prevent payments for reasonable and necessary treatment. In one of the last Reviewing Board decisions of 2017, the Board assessed whether or not an administrative judge’s order for the insurer to pay expenses under §§ 13 and 30 of the workers’ compensation act was made in error after he refused to allow additional medical evidence during the proceeding.
The employee suffered a repetitive motion workplace injury to her left elbow in 1997. The woman underwent two unsuccessful operations in 1997 and 1998, which caused nerve damage and enduring pain in her left arm. In 1999, she received a lump sum for the injury, entering into an agreement with the insurer, which agreed to pay for reasonable, necessary related medical expenses. A year after this agreement, she began taking Fentanyl and Vicodin to help manage pain.
Between the agreement and the proceeding, the injured employee earned an advance degree and returned to work for a different employer. In 2009, she broke two toes and sprained her ankle in an accident unrelated to work, developing Reflex Sympathy Dystrophy (RSD) in her right leg. For this, she was prescribed Fentanyl, Vicodin, and Lyrica for pain. Between 2010 and 2015, her health insurer paid for these medications.